Dealing with Customer Doubt: The Language of Trust by Michael Maslansky

How do you inspire trust with words online?  You may have a firm handshake, a warm smile, and can look people in the eye with honesty.  But these face-to-face cues can’t help you online. Your words become your language of trust.

Create Content to Overcome Short attention spans and Reader Reluctance

Studies show most web visitors read only 20-25% of your text. You may not get a chance to have your full say.   Not only does your website have to instill trust in what you offer.  You need to deal with visitor inattention, on top of skepticism and doubt.

The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics is a persuasive book by Michael Maslansky, defining the elements to get your message through to your audience.  Even in the face of doubt and short attention, words remain the main tools for building trust.

Maslansky calls today’s public climate the “Post Trust Era” or PTE.  People no longer place blind faith in technical terms, claims of expertise, or marketing hype they may have trusted in the past.  If we wish to get our message through in this climate, he says, we need to be willing to address a standing state of mistrust.

Guidance for Choosing Your Words That Work

Maslansky’s approach isn’t about using a formula or a template to manipulate readers into a desired response.  It’s about being mindful of the needs of people who are more resistant and wary than before. By looking at what has succeeded – and what’s failed – in successfully delivering intended messages to the public, Maslansky gives us four principles to guide our choice of words when we want people hear what we have to say.

Be Personal

Speak to one person’s situation.  This means talk to an individual, rather than a category of people with a certain need.  It’s not about what you want to say – it’s about why the idea is relevant to someone specific.   When you put your idea on a human scale, you make it easy for a person to see what you’re saying the context of his or her daily life.

Be Plainspoken

In other words, put jargon aside.  Even if you think your visitor already knows your special terminology, use terms anyone can understand.  Simple language builds trust because readers feel you’ve duly informed them when your point is easy to grasp.  Confusion is not the reader’s fault, but yours. Easy-to-read, straight talk makes your claim clear and believable.

Be Positive

When you want to promote your idea, scare tactics, predictions of grim outcomes, or doomsday scenarios are weaker arguments than you might think. Negative campaigns are losing their effectiveness.  People want to build hope for a positive outcome.  So they will prefer an argument that confirms the result they want to see.  Malansky does not endorse spinning stories that are too-good-to-be-true, or turning a blind eye to objections.  Rather, he recommends promoting the desired goal rather than the undesirable one, for any given message.  Negativity has less power to motivate people than an affirming message showing the way to a desired result.

Be Plausible

Words like “great” or “best” have little real sway with readers.  To be believable, acknowledge the natural limitations of your solution.  Use words that describe, rather than state your opinion of your claim. Even while you are taking a positive approach to a goal, openly address people’s questions and reasonable doubts.

The Language of Trust is rich with examples that compare weak statements to those that succeed better to inspire trust with a given audience.

There is no “template” or blueprint spin these principles into marketing copy that sells.  Rather, you get a set of ideas to help you organize your words for any topic, in any industry.

There are plenty of tools with swipes or examples of sales copy that’s had success in the past.  The benefit of learning the language of trust. is being able to understand what is needed for an approach to work with a given audience. If you’re looking for a book to guide you in choosing trustworthy words, and address doubt and apathy in your potential customer, this book has key concepts you can build on.

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